2 September 2009

Those happy times

We passed the joint around the table, each smoking in turn as we talked and laughed, joking with each other. Australian, Japanese, Taiwanese, French, German, Kiwi, British. Seventy years ago our nationalities would have branded us as enemies. Yet here we were, sharing a smoke and a drink, sharing a bond developed over a few weeks of living together in the same campsite.

We can talk easily about the war with each other, unanimously agreeing that war is hell and nobody wins. We are all to some degree open-minded hippies, free-spirited travellers, citizens of the world. We have no use for xenophobia.

Yet I can't help but wonder if we would have felt differently had we met during that war. I like to think we could have resisted the blanket designation of 'enemy'. I like to think we could have remained untouched by jingoism, still able to form friendships, to love and trust each other based on who we are are people. But I suspect that we wouldn't have found it so easy.

I feel a sense of wonder as I look around the table. We talk, we joke, we laugh. We hug and dance and tickle. We share what we have, and we watch each other's backs. I've come to cherish our connection. We are each other's family in a place where we would otherwise be alone.

I look around and I think with pride, we won that war.

We won, all of us - all of us who refuse to hate anyone for their colour or creed, refuse to hate merely on the basis of our fear or ignorance. We won, in spite of the forces which would want us to hate each other. We're still winning. What a triumph!

It's so satisfying to know that our grandparents' demons didn't prevail.

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